The frail pope, the first to retire as Bishop of Rome in 600 years, received an emotional and very public send-off as some 150,000 well-wishers flooded St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican to hear his farewell address. The often reserved Benedict took a long victory lap around the square, stopping the Popemobile to kiss and bless a half-dozen babies along the way.
Draped in a red and gold mantle lined with snow-white ermine, Benedict clasped the cardinals’ hands as they removed their distinctive red skullcaps to greet him and kiss his ring. “Among you is also the future pope, whom I promise my unconditional reverence and obedience,” Benedict told the cardinals, reflecting the concern among Vatican watchers about what it will mean to have two popes residing in the Vatican.
“Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value.” - 1 Corinthians 3:12-13
A day earlier, he blessed the faithful for the last time as pope, saying his tenure had been filled with “light and joy” but also had its darker moments when “the Lord seemed to be sleeping.”
“We thank God for the sun he has given us,” the pope said.
“I have felt like St. Peter with the Apostles in the boat on the sea of Galilee: the Lord has given us many days of sunshine and gentle breeze, days in which the catch has been abundant; Then there have been times when the seas were rough and the wind against us, as in the whole history of the church it has ever been - and the Lord seemed to sleep. It is he, who steers her: to be sure, he does so also through men of his choosing. In these last few months, I have felt my strength diminish and I have asked God with insistency in my prayers to illuminate me with his light and make me take the best decision. To love the church means also to have the courage to take difficult, painful decisions, always keeping the good of the church in mind, not oneself.” Benedict said to thundering applause from the crowd and from dozens of cardinals who have descended on Rome to choose his successor in the coming weeks.
Benedict shocked the world on Feb. 11 when he announced that, feeling his age and diminishing strength, he would retire, a dramatic step that sent the members of the Vatican hierarchy into a tailspin.
While John Paul was raised as a Pole under Nazi occupation or Communist tyranny, Joseph Ratzinger spent most of his adult life in postwar West Germany, where secularism and consumer society held sway.
In a homily shortly after John Paul’s death, Benedict identified “the dictatorship of relativism” as the principal problem facing both society and the modern church. While it “recognizes nothing as definitive,” it turns “the self and its desires” into the only basis for truth and for action.
“One of the great themes of Pope Benedict’s pontificate has been to show the importance that reason has for a life of faith and the importance faith has for all of those who use their minds,” said Monsignor McPartlan.
To counter those trends in the rich, secularized West, Benedict promoted “the new evangelization.” In deliberate contrast with the image of spreading the Gospel to new areas, the “new evangelization” seeks to reawaken and revive it in nations, especially in Europe, that have been culturally Christian for centuries.
Beyond his work within the church, Benedict’s legacy will be judged in part by his handling of the church’s sex-abuse crisis, both because of the decades of abuse itself and the role the church’s bishops played in covering up for abusive priests.
Unlike John Paul, he personally met with victims of clergy sex abuse on several of his foreign trips, including one to the U.S. He also issued an unprecedented apology to Irelands Catholics over decades of systematic sex abuse and told guilty clergy to “submit yourselves to the demands of justice.”
Benedict also moved strongly against the Legion of Christ, ordering a full-scale reworking of an order that had enjoyed the favor of John Paul but whose now-repudiated founder, Father Marcial Maciel, had serially abused seminarians and fathered at least three children.
“So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden. Everything they do is for show. On their arms they wear extra wide prayer boxes with Scripture verses inside, and they wear robes with extra long tassels. And they love to sit at the head table at banquets and in the seats of honor in the synagogues. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father’, for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Don’t make others call you a leader, because you have only one leader, the Messiah. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law. Hypocrites. For you shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You won’t go in yourselves, and you don’t let others enter either. You blind fools. Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? You blind men. Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? Therefore, anyone who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. And anyone who swears by heaven swears by God’s throne and by the one who sits on it.” - Matthew 23:3-22
3/13/13 The new leader of the Catholic Church is the Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio who has taken the name of Pope Francis.
Bergoglio, 76 (13), is a Jesuit from Buenos Aires and is the first pope from South America. He is also the first pope to take the name of Francis.
Pope Francis is unique not just for being the first Latin American pope. He’s also the first Jesuit pope, possibly signaling a renewed emphasis on traditional Catholic theology by the church.
While tourists ran for cover from hailstones, a man dressed in a dirty sackcloth habit knelt barefoot in prayer in front of the basilica as hymns echoed around the square.
“And I will appoint my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” - Revelation 11:3
“Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord.” - Malachi 4:5